Russia Update: Canada Denies Entry Visas to Russian Delegation to Proliferation Meeting

May 22, 2015
Russian team skates off the ice before Canadian national anthem is sung after they lost 6-1 in the International Hockey Federation (IHF) World Championship in May 2015 in Prague. Screenshot from video via LiveJournal blogger drugoi.

Canada denies visas to a Russian delegation coming to a meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative. The latest visa denials to Russians in protest against the war in Ukraine also follows an incident where Russian hockey players skated off the ice before the Canadian national anthem was played after losing 6-1.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.


Russia This Week:

From Medal of Valor to Ubiquitous Propaganda Symbol: the History of the St. George Ribbon
What Happened to the Slow-Moving Coup?
Can We Be Satisfied with the Theory That Kadyrov Killed Nemtsov?
All the Strange Things Going On in Moscow

Special features:

With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin
Alexey Navalny On the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
Novaya Gazeta Releases Sensational Kremlin Memo

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TV Rain Reporter and Other Russia, Ukrainian and French Reporters Detained Near Togliatti Army Base

TV Rain correspondent Timur Olevsky has been arrested in Togliatti near an army base where two Russian GRU agents captured near Lugansk this week were once based, TV Rain reports.

Other Russian and foreign reporters have also been detained.

Translation: We’re sitting with colleagues, waiting while they call us in to write an explanatory statement.

It is customary after arrests in Russia for detainees to write an explanation about who they are and what they were doing for the police.

Translation: My passport was taken by a major from the GRU base. We didn’t sit them out yet but they claim that they brought them with us.

Olevsky has continued to tweet until about 40 minutes ago, and commented that he could tell the rank of the soldier by his chevron.

He said others had been arrested as well:

Translation: They also detained the camera crew from Inter television channel. Kovaleko and Rusakov and Aleksandr Sollogub from France.

Inter is a Ukrainian channel.

The reporters are trying to cover the story of Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, GRU officers who were on reconnaissance outside of the power station near Schastye in Lugansk Region when they were captured by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine has declared that it will try them as “terrorists.”


— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Canada Denies Entry Visas to Russian Delegation to Proliferation Security Initiative Meeting

Canada has denied entry visas to a Russian delegation that was planning to attend a meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an effort started by President George Bush in 2003 to curb weapons of mass destruction.

Canada has evidently denied the visas as part of its sanctions regime against the Kremlin for the war in the Crimea and the Donbass. Like the US and EU, Canada has barred entry to high officials and business figures in Russia over the Ukrainian war, and has also denied visas on a case-by-case basis.

Last September, Canada denied visas to space officials to attend a prestigious astronautical conference, for example. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra also cancelled a performance by Valentina Lisitsa, a Ukrainian pianist who emigrated to the US in 1991 and has taken the side of the Russian-backed separatists, after she tweeted hateful remarks about Ukrainians. The cancellation sparked protests from some performers who characterized the TSO as succumbing to pressure from Ukrainian interest groups.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has fired off an angry response (translation by The Interpreter):

Regrettably, official Ottawa, inflated for internal political reasons a Russophobia hysteria, is fighting common sense and trying arrogate to itself without prior arragement the right to determine who can and who cannot take part in an important multilateral activity which, through the force of circumstance, is being held on Canadian territory.

We would like to recall that Russia is a key partner in the war against the spread of WMDs and is a full-fledged member of the Initiative to Combat WMDs and does not need in this case any Canadian “benevolence.”

The problems of non-proliferatoin are too serious a field in internaitonal relations. Settling local political scores, which the government of Stephen Harper has been obsessively doing, is inappropriate and counterproductive.

Such hostile actions of course will not be left without a response.

This latest round of visa bans follows an incident at a recent hockey match between Canada and Russia in the International Hockey Federation’s (IHF) World Championship.

The Canadians beat the Russians 6-1, and at the end of the game, when the Canadian team gathered to sing the national anthem with their fans, the Russians walked off the ice.

One critical Russian blogger published a video of the incident.

This non-sportsmanlike behavior will likely earn Russia punishment, IHF president Rene Fasel told Canadian media.

“Once we arrive back home after the world
championships we will look into this question and we will get in touch
with those in charge at the Russian Ice Hockey Federation,” IIHF
president Rene Fasel said in the statement to the TASS news agency.

“The IIHF has its own protocol and some sort of punishment will be handed down.

I saw what had happened, I was very upset. In the 29 world
championships that I have had the honor of attending, this is the first
time I have seen something like this. What the Russian team did was
completely out of order.

Canada has a population of 1.2 million people of Ukrainian heritage, the largest population after Ukraine and Russia, and they are strong lobbyists against the Kremlin. In fact, under the Harper government, Canada has shown more willingness than the EU and US to bar many Russians promoting the Kremlin’s objectives.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick